ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Posts Tagged ‘Gay

Wiping Out Homophobia on Facebook

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You know how the Internet works:  one link leads to another link to another link and, before you know it, you’re right there staring at the screen saying “WOW!!!”.  That was the case with me back in early fall of last year.  I ended up on a facebook page that was right in the middle of going viral.  If you’ve never witnessed that, it’s an amazing thing to watch.  When I “joined” the community, by simply clicking the “like” button, there were less that 100,000 members.  By the minute, those numbers were increasing by the dozens.  Dozens…as in plural.  I watched in excited awe as this page just literally blew up into one of the true giants on the social network behemoth.  To become a giant on a network that has over 8 HUNDRED MILLION people on it is an accomplishment of enormous proportions.  What could a single page create such a buzz and generate such a massive, and quite active, audience in such a short time?  They’re in the “business” of changing lives.

Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook had a main goal, when I joined it, of spotting pages on facebook that promoted hatred and intolerance towards the gay community and getting them eliminated from the social network.  Since then, it’s morphed into so much more.  Today, they have gay married couples posting wedding pictures.  Today, they have suicidal gay teens, or their parents, writing in to give their own testimonial of how Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook (WHOF) saved their life.   Oh, and today, they still root out homophobic hatred and intolerance on facebook.

Becoming part of this burgeoning community was an exhilarating experience.  Immediately, it became my de facto homepage on facebook.  I was there at least 10-1 more than I was on my own “home” page.  This was where I was supposed to be.  This was my community.  I’d post comments, read other’s stories of happiness and sadness, and share their links and stories to the friends on my own pages. (call it my second coming out!)

In October, WHOF changed my life forever.  I returned from work to read the headline “We Failed Another Gay Teen”.  See, that’s been my hot-button for most of my adult life:  Gay teen suicide.  So, naturally, when I saw that headline, it grabbed my full attention.    I dug deeper and found Jamie’s videos on youtube.  I sat in stunned disbelief as I watched all 12 of them from beginning to end.  I read his tumblr blog.  And, then I got mad.  I’d written songs about gay teen suicide, but no one really paid much attention to them.  That was supposed to be my way of doing my part to help bring awareness to the problem.  If no one is listening, the message isn’t going anywhere.  Right then and there, I made the decision to get deeper involved.  That’s when this blog was born.  If there were a “family tree” for this blog, WHOF would have to be the root.

Kevin O’Neill, or Kel, is the creator and founder of WHOF, which also has a website: whof.net.  In his own words, “we [also] have a lot of ‘straight’ supporters who learn a lot about us.”  It’s people from all around the world, gay and straight, black and white and red and green, young and old, male and female, coming together to form a loving community of sharing and caring.  And, sometimes, just being.  Kel, and WHOF, changed my life forever.  Now, multiply that by the 277,000+ “members” who are in the community, and you’ll get a better picture of the impact this page has had on people around the world.

There’s a massive army formed to combat homophobia, to educate people on how to stop bullying, and most importantly to prevent gay teen suicides.  WHOF, is right there in the trenches leading the way.  We are all much better off with Kel, and his creation, in the world.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

Religion, Homosexuality, and Suicide

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I just finished reading an entry from a fellow blogger that moved me to tears.  And, I strongly suggest that everyone reads this story.  See, religion nearly cost him his son.  Thank God he didn’t succeed.  Ironic, huh?

I promised myself from the beginning of this blogging venture that I would do my damnedest to keep religion out of this.  It’s hard.  When you see people like Michele Bachmann constantly ranting in the media against gays, (and, today’s story is a doozy!!!), it becomes increasingly harder.  People of her ilk are extremely dangerous because they’ve become so consumed with their belief and ideology that there’s no room for anything other than what they believe.  That’s a dangerous place to be.  Life is so many shades of gray.  Kept out of the limelight as this woman runs for the highest office in the entire free world is the fact that her husband runs one of those “clinics” that “cures” gays.  Where was he last week when I had a cold?  These “clinics have been known to drive people to suicide.  And, the scary part about that is that “they’re” ok with that.  In the eyes, in the heart (sic) and soul of these “believers”, if you’re gay or lesbian, you SHOULD burn. (did I say she wanted to become our President?)

I relate to this lunacy completely.  I was born into one of those 5-day-a-week church-going families.  I was also born gay.  Once my mother passed away, the rest of the family effectively died, as well.  I have a sister who lives literally 5 minutes away from where I’m sitting this very moment, and 15 minutes away from where I live.  I have not seen my mother’s daughter since Thanksgiving 1985!  All of my aunts and uncles and cousins also soundly rejected me, as well.  Orphaned.  HATED, in the name of the Lord.  I survived.

Here’s the real deal, and you’re free to agree or disagree with me.  Either way, my view here is unflappable.  Today, there are people who disguise themselves as Christians who are as dangerous to the mental and emotional well-being, not to mention safety, of members of our society as any terrorist could ever be.  When you have a pastor ordering his congregation (Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, TN) to beat a gay couple trying to enter the church; when you have Westboro Baptist Church, pastor and congregation, carrying out their mission of hatred; when you have a Presidential candidate pushing anti-gay rhetoric so fiercely that the rate of gay teen suicides in the district she represents is greatly higher than in any other part of the state, you know that we have a deep problem.  Fruitland?  Heh heh heh.

It’s okay if these people don’t “accept” me.  I couldn’t care less.  I accept me, and I know that God accepts me.  And, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs.  Supposedly, that’s one of the beauties of living in the United States of America.  Supposedly.  However, when these people start attempting to ram their beliefs down our collective throats, when these people start committing acts of violence against us, when these people start showing up at our funerals as we mourn and say goodbye to our loved ones, the line has to be definitively drawn.  Enough hatred!

The irony here is that God is love.  That’s what I was taught.  These people, disguised as Christians, are preaching exactly the opposite.  They’re spreading hatred and intolerance in the name of the Lord. (who REALLY needs to fear Judgment Day?)  I’m reminded of a quote from Gandhi:  “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.  They are so unlike Christ.”  Amen.

 

How Some Parents Drive Their Kids to Suicide (Updated)

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How Some Parents Drive Their Kids to Suicide (Updated)

I’ve been saying for too many years that there are parents in this country, and probably around the world, who drive their gay or lesbian sons or daughters to suicide.  And, to their defense, I will say that they don’t even realize they’re doing it until it’s too late.  We as adults, young or old, already know how difficult the teen years can be.  The teasing, the bullying, the “trying to fit in”, the sheer weight of peer pressure.  Toss into the ring the reality of being a gay or lesbian who is still figuring themselves out – or, for that matter, even the ones who are confident within themselves with their sexuality – which is almost certain to bring added pressure and tension.  Take all of that turmoil that they’re already dealing with at school amongst their peers, add to it living in a household where they already know that gays and lesbians are not accepted, looked down upon, or (in some cases) vehemently hated.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  It plays out in household across this country, and around the world, every single day.  Remember: every 18 minutes, a kid takes his own life.  That’s an epidemic!  It’s time we start changing the way we think in order to start saving some lives.  Even the strongest steel breaks under too much pressure.

UPDATE:

I thought it was fitting to add to this entry.  At this very moment, I’m also chatting with a simply delightful, highly intelligent, very handsome and sensitive young man.  Unfortunately, he also fights suicidal tendencies regularly.  And, at the root of that is a home where his family, his parents belittle him (at best) for who his is.  I spend as much time as needed, and as I can, talking to him.  It’s paying off.  He IS doing better by the day.  However, this morning, his self-esteem took another punch to the gut as his own mother called him “…a fool” for being in love with someone from his own sex.  If only we could get these parents to understand the devastating effect some of their words have on their children, I’m sure the suicide rate amongst teens, gay and straight alike, would be drastically lower.  Here’s the blog entry this young man-made (his permission to reblog was granted) after being verbally assaulted by his own mother:

Heartbroken…

I feel like everyone is stalking at me… Pressured just anywhere I go… Finally when I’d try to get closer to someone I love from all my heart… someone will surely be there to break my least effort… and break my heart to tiny pieces…

Even my own family wants to take away from me what matters to me the most… Urging me not to have what my life is just all about… if that’s so then I don’t even need my life either 😦

Sometimes I just wish to run away and get the whole thing over with…

Only then comes school, where I’m, yet again, handled as a darts target, a trash can, a whatever… what does life worth like this? 😦

A grateful thanks to the few beautiful people who reassure me from time to time… ily!

Pray for change.  Then work towards making it happen.

The Good….

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In the grand scheme of things, this is a battle that’s been fought for as long as I can remember.  In the ’50s and ’60s, it was the Civil Rights movement.  That torch was passed on to the Women’s Rights movement.  And, here we are today.  Same fight; new warriors. (well, on one side of the battle, at least.  If you look deep enough, I’m thinking you’d see the same core institution on the OTHER side of the battle in all of these cases.  Makes you wonder…)

This battle for acceptance, gay rights, gay marriage, tolerance, ending gay teen suicide all fits under one big rainbow-colored umbrella.  Our army has some strong leaders.  Fighters.  When you have a 14-year-old openly gay student taking on the school board, that’s a fighter!!
In seeing and listening to young people like Graeme Taylor gives you the sense that, through the darkness, there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  The message here for young people is it can and will get better if you just hang in there.  Pass it on.

Written by Ron Kemp

November 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Happy Birthday, Jamie Hubley

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You know, 40 short days ago, I had no idea in the world who Jamie Hubley was.  In the days since then, however, his name, his voice, and even his spectacularly handsome image is known to people all around the globe.  On October 14th, Jamie ended his young life.  Being 15 years old and openly gay had its price as Jamie was yet another victim of homophobic bullying.  Being 15 years old, openly gay, enduring bullying, and having clinical depression on top of that proved to be too much weight to carry.  In his short time here, Jamie was already making a major impact on people’s lives.  According to his father, in a recorded interview, Jamie just loved people and wanted to make a difference.  According to Jamie, in his now-defunct tumblr blog, “I just want to feel special to someone”.  Today, the things he wished for and wanted are coming to fruition:  he is making a difference in people’s lives around the globe; he is very special in the hearts of thousands and, perhaps, over a million people from that same geographic location.  To be sure, as of this day, I can still say I never “knew” him.  I can say, however that he has had a profound impact on my life.  See, Jamie Hubley is why you’re reading this.  Jamie Hubley gave me my voice.  As a singer/songwriter by profession, and as a gay man, I’d ALWAYS taken the issue of gay teen suicide very seriously.  I’d been trying to bring awareness to the issue for a couple decades.  I’d written about it in a few of my songs.  It wasn’t enough.  I needed to get more deeply involved in helping to bring about change.  This very blog is in Jamie’s honor.

Today, November 23rd, 2011 is Jamie’s sweet 16th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, JAMIE!!!  You are loved by many.